Monday, 4 September 2017

Afterwards Part 3

"Looking at it logically, there’s no doubt that I’ll go before you," he said whenever the conversation turned to old age and shuffling off the mortal coil. “All things being equal, of course.”

Not the kind of equality I was looking forward to. You look at these things from a distance using the same comfortable specs that will eventually take you through every difficult patch, when you can see an end to whatever problem happens to bar the road. Intellectually you know it has to happen sooner or later, but ‘nah, not to us’, ostrich-like. (I do believe that’s a myth, ostriches do not stick their heads into the sand).

I am still counting the weeks since it happened. Still thinking ‘I wonder if there was anything we/I didn’t do / could have done that would have put off the evil day?' The simple fact is that it was his time.

His time, not mine. Not mine, so now I feel guilty for having outlasted Beloved. I feel guilty for surviving, for surviving and not crashing, for surviving and not lying shattered in a heap, wailing and broken; surviving and functioning, quite well, on the face of it. How shallow does that make me? Why am I not destroyed? I have no idea if guilt is part of the grieving process, like anger and denial,  - I won’t be going back to the websites that would enlighten me. But guilt is a frequent yet vague visitor, unacknowledged, not dragged into the light of day to look at dispassionately. It’s almost as if I need to feel this guilt.

Could that be the reason why I now have habits that were Beloved’s habits, never mine? We have a small paring knife. It was his favourite and an absolute no-no for me. "The handle too small, the blade too short, I simply cannot get on with it”. Now it’s my favourite kitchen knife, I rummage in the drawer for it. Beloved and I both had muesli for breakfast, he with banana pennies, me without. He invariably offered me half his banana, I invariably turned it down. “You know I don’t like bananas”, I’d say, irritably. Guess what’s on my bowl of muesli now? Every morning? And who gets a large chunk of the banana? Beloved’s favourite chair was one of those large semi recliners. I always complained that it was bad for his posture, that he should at least keep it upright. Now this large, rather comfortable, dark green leather chair embraces me for TV watching and reading. Yes, I do make it lean back and often fall asleep in it for a spell. Oh yes, I also wear his summer anorak, although it’s rather baggy on me. And, no doubt, some of his better shirts left in the wardrobe will come in handy for me.

It’s a way of keeping him alive.


14 comments:

  1. All of what you are doing and describing is part of grieving and mourning, including wondering why you are still here...Hugs from afar.

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  2. I am going through much of what you describe, though we each grieve in our own way. I smiled when I read you have adopted his anorak and chair, as I have adopted my husband's soft hat with the brim, perfect for walks. My dear husband told me he would die first, even though I am two years older, just as your husband said.

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  3. Guilt part of the grieving process? Absolutely! Imagine how guilty I have often felt for not being there when Steve fell dead to the floor in our living room that Thursday afternoon in November nearly 8 years ago, while I was at work, talking to customers and colleauges, reading and writing emails which became absolutely meaningless a few hours later.
    The doctor told me I couldn't have done anything, even if I had been in the same room with him. And I know Steve always feared me going first, leaving him behind, and so it was a comforting thought to know that this was now never going to happen. And yet, there was guilt, because I didn't know and never tried to find out whether he had a heart condition or anything else that could kill him.

    Your taking over your Beloved's habits reminds me of some of the things I did (and am still doing), too. Not wearing his clothes - I gave most of them away, apart from a jumper and his flat cap. But using his favourite kitchen utensils and other such things, yes. And like you, I was not lying in a shattered heap, broken and wailing. In fact, I went back to work on the Monday morning, and that was my personal strategy of surviving. Turning into a shattered heap would not have changed a thing - he would have remained dead and gone. But I was 41 years old when it happened, and I hope to have many more years ahead. Hopefully, you can enjoy life again, too.

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  4. Dear Friko - it's lovely to read of his traits that you are adopting ... makes sense and yes you can thoughtfully converse with him as these early days go along ... and you will continue to do so. Be peaceful doing what you can, when you can, remembering things and taking them over as yours ... I can understand you not wanting to go through the processes of the why etc ... it's easier to just get on - we all have our look backs, yet we know we did the best we did at the time ... so our life continues. All the best and with thoughts - Hilary

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  5. I hope you're finding comfort in his chair, using his paring knife & eating banana with your muesli. x glg

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  6. You are finding comfort in your Beloved's things and habits and that is a good thing.

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  7. I remember my mom doing similar things after my father passed on; adapting, keeping things I thought she would get rid of, holding on. She kept his wallet. I have it now, along with hers. I hope your Beloved's things give you a measure, no matter how small, of peace. Good thoughts coming your way.

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  8. You are doing what will add a bit of comfort as your loss was huge. The green chair allows you naps to keep moving forward in your life. Yes his presence was there and now his spirit will be. There is a connection but no need to let guilt bother you. All is as it should be now. Thanks for sharing your toughest moments. Sending positive vibes.

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  9. I think all of those things are absolutely lovely! Each brings comfort and solace. They are perfect things to do. :)

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  10. The word that comes to mind is comforting. I imagine that it also brings a sense of closeness, almost like he is still there, and that is a good thing. Take care Friko. My thoughts are with you.

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  11. I hope to have many more years ahead. Hopefully, you can enjoy life again, too.


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  12. Everything you write makes all the sense in the world. It's all part of the grieving process, part of the learning to be without someone who was part of your world. The guilt? You bet. The guilt of "what could I have done" and the "what didn't I do that I should have." (Hate should.) And the chair, the anorak -- Oh, I have things in my house that are dreadfully wrong but they're not going anywhere because they were dad's or mom's and they're with me now. I can only imagine the grief of your life partner.

    It's so easy to be hard on ourselves. But try not to be. I've seen your words for many a year and I know what you and Beloved were to one another. We should all be so lucky to have that in our world and for such a long while. And grief stinks. Mourning and death? Yes. But Beloved is living on for us, for his friends and neighbors and family in you, your stories and your words, your new habits and wardrobe. And that's so very right...

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  13. The things in our lives -- the chair, the knife -- are important precisely because they do bear within themselves memories of places and people we have loved. I bring a rock home from a cliff, and place it on my desk. I touch it, I turn it over, and remember being in that place, at that time. In the same way, I use the silver from my parents' table now. Why should I, alone at a dinner table on a Wednesday evening, use what my mother called "the good silver"? Because it's beautiful, and because she loved it, and because it makes Wednesday night supper a little more civilized.

    I have a suitcase I pack at the beginning of every hurricane season. I fill it with the things I just can't let go of: the cribbage board my father and I used to play with; some dish cloths my mother knit, a few pieces of jewelry, some photos. These are the substance of our lives -- we aren't only mind and spirit, we're body, too, and those embodiments of our loved ones do help keep them with us.

    It's a bit ironic that one of my greatest griefs is that there's no family left to pass things on to. When I'm gone, those memory filled things will become lifeless, too. They won't have any memories attached to them any more.

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  14. Makes perfect sense . You're allowed to do whatever you want .

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